Children as young as 11 have been held in police cells under the Mental Health Act a Freedom of Information request has revealed.
The children had not necessarily committed any crimes but police said sometimes cells were the only option.
The BBC report:
There were 347 such detentions, some for more than 24 hours, figures show.
The Mental Health Act lets police take anyone they suspect of being mentally ill in “need of care or control” to a safe place for assessment.
The Department for Health said it was developing better procedures to ensure young people get appropriate care.
The Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) says, in some parts of the UK, cells are the only option.